There are $10.5 million reasons – not to mention other fringe benefits – for the world’s best golfers to visit Memphis, Tennessee, for the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational, and yet apparently the PGA Tour has approved a one-time policy to assure a full field.
The Commercial Appeal first reported on June 29 that, if necessary, to complete the field of 78, golfers outside the top 50 on July 20 will become eligible in order of position. On Wednesday, Golf Channel quoted a memo sent to players that read, “To maximize playing opportunities, adding an alternate list constructed from the next available players in order beyond 50th position on the Official World Golf Ranking . . . the alternate list would be utilized to fill the field to a limit of 78 players.”
Golfers with an Official World Golf Ranking in the top 50 in the world on March 16, when the rankings were frozen due to the worldwide stoppage of play, and those inside the top 50 leading up to the event (after the Memorial) qualify, as do winners of official tournaments from the Federation Tours (Mackenzie Tour, PGA Tour Latinoamerica and PGA Tour China) with an Official World Golf Ranking strength-of-field rating of 115 points or more.
There is no doubt that the elevation of the Tour’s annual stop in Memphis to WGC classification and a $10.5 million purse last year boosted the strength of field – more than tripling its OWGR points from 191 to 688, and with the winner’s points doubling from 36 to 72.
Last year’s WGC was held the week after the British Open, and attracted a field of 63 players, while the 2018 rendition, the last year held at Firestone CC in Akron, Ohio, included 71 players.
Brooks Koepka is the defending champion. This year’s tournament will be held at TPC Southwind July 30-Aug. 2, the week before the PGA Championship in San Francisco.